Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow

It started last night around six o'clock and hasn't stopped. The ground is blanketed with a crystal, powdery, bright white layer of gorgeous snow--and we've no place to go and no place to be. Andrew's been strumming out Coldplay's Strawberry Swing on our six string and I've just finished cleaning up from a Jack Johnson-esque breakfast of banana pancakes. There's a red bird that has been fluttering around the courtyard for the last hour that looks postcard picture perfect in the evergreen trees against the crisp snow. If I thought I could capture it on camera, I might venture outside but the wind and the part snow/part sleet combination is pressing me back into the couch, so here I must stay. Who'd a thunk it, snow--and it's not even Christmas! Left me totally nonplussed.

Last night, however, we did venture out in the snow--rather, we were out and the snow started falling. We went to dinner and literally drove right into the storm. By the time we came out of the restaurant, there was at least an inch covering the truck already. When we got home we did what you always do when it snows: make snow cream! drink hot chocolate! watch a movie! Which, btw--we watched Pixar's Up and it was soooo cuuuuute!! If you haven't seen it, do. I laughed and cried. And it was a cartoon. So, see it! Anyway, snow cream. There are multiple recipes out there and I think you could probably think about what's in real ice cream and make up your own recipe. We just used what we had in the house, which was milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. And of course, fresh pow-pow. ;)

1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix 'em all up, then pour it over at least 3 quarts of snow (taste it and adjust accordingly), stirring to mix until it's an ice cream/shaved ice consistency. A sweet, scandalous treat! Annnd for lack of refrigerator space, just stick it on the back porch to keep cold.

The courtyard this morning: simply lovely.

Anyway, we also had a couch monkey last night, a young gentleman afraid the snow would keep him from calling on his love this Saturday morn, since he lives over the river and through the woods and we live a stone's throw from his fair maiden. We didn't reaaaally think it would be a problem to drive, but love makes one do crazy things, so we threw him a bone (and a pillow) and let him crash on the sofa.
Now. What to do, what to do. Tap-tap-tap (drumming fingers on the keys). Probably a nap. And/or a book. And/or a pot of tea. {sigh} I just love snow days!


It's all about the ganache

Yup. It tastes as good as it looks. German chocolate cake. We've still got 3/4 of this delightful confection in the fridge. Be still my heart (be still my waistline)!

Ah, the birthday boy. It takes quite a lungful to blow out 24 candles, but he got 'em all. And when I asked what he wished for he said, "nothing. I've already got everything I want". (Awwwwwwwwwwwww!) Love him, love him!

Sooo, anyway. Today I ventured to Bed Bath & Beyond to take care of some errands and as I was wandering around the hamster-cage layout, I felt a strange, magnetic force pulling me, pulling me towards the kitchen area: it was the wall of gadgets. Hundreds of feet of garlic presses, whisks, lemon zesters, spatulas, potato mashers, meat mallets, flour sifters, avocado slicers...in the immortal words of our favorite fish, Ariel: gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, who's-its and what's-its galore. They've definitely got more than 20 thing-a-mabobs. And I want 'em all. Not really, but really. Where do you store all of these thing-a-majiggers when you get them home? And you use them like once every blue corn moon? Referring to my previous post, necessity is the mother of invention and since I do not own even a noteworthy portion of the doohickies artfully hanging on the BB&B wall, I improvise: meat mallet? Heavy spoon. Lemon zester? Cheese grater. Flour sifter? Wire skimmer. You get the point. My sister-in-law, Melody, forever used an empty wine bottle for a rolling pin until she married my brother (oh, the joys of bridal registries). Even though I can't raid the gadget wall in one trip and forever put my dreams of kitchen utility to rest, I can do one thing. I can make a list. And I can cross things off of that list, little by little, and that's just what I'll do until the gadgeteer within me is satisfied. Mmm.

And just for the record, Jack Bauer is my hero. If you don't watch 24, you should.

Ciao, bellas!


Improvisation is my forte

Necessity is the mother of invention.


Beef: It's what's for dinner

I have beef with my washing machine. And with laundry in general. Now, I know there are not little gnomes with sharp scissors in the agitator snipping holes in all of my favorite clothes--no, no. That's not possible. Washing machine gnomes do not exist, to my knowledge. Nonetheless, like ten of my favorite shirts have frickin' holes in 'em! What's up with that?!? Not gaping holes that make the item unwearable, but little, tiny, itty bitty holes that don't really matter to anyone else, but make me want to tear my clothes and wear sackcloth and ashes in mourning. Yep, it's that bad. I know what you're going to say: you're overfilling the washing machine, MaryGene. That's the problem. Yeah, well who has time to do 57 small loads of laundry?!

Speaking of beef. I'm trying my hand at pot roast today, and boyyyyy does it smell nice. Quite aromatic. I cleaned my whole, entire apartment yesterday and then destroyed all my hard work in the kitchen by attempting a pot roast. But, who cares. If you didn't make a big mess, then it probably won't be good, right? Anyway, it smells so good, I wish you could smell it. All that rosemary and thyme, (no, this is not a Simon & Garfunkel song), carrots and onions and that big ol' chuck roast. The best part is, that slab o' meat was $15 and I got it for $7.22! Totally legal, I assure you. I love a good sale. Heck yes.

In about .2 seconds I have to go peel potatoes to accompany the tender, luscious pot roast that is being cooked to perfection in my chocolate brown dutch oven. YUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!!!!!


Inglourious BEEEP!

Yeah, last night Andrew and I watched Inglourious Basterds (don't they have spellcheck in Hollywood?) thanks to Netflix. I tried to swing the "since we just watched a boy movie we can get a girl movie next" move, but Andrew wasn't having it. What's so wrong with Julie & Julia? C'mooonnn! But we're getting The Life Aquatic next. A compromise. I typically love Wes Anderson films--even if I don't reaaaally get it half the time--so I wasn't totally disappointed. Anyway, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious took a Golden Globe on Sunday, so I gave in and decided we should see the durn thing. Word to the wise, if you are squeamish or can't take head-bashing and blood-spurting, don't watch this movie. BUT, it is a very interesting film, one that I can't stop thinking about, and I don't particularly enjoy blood bath type movies. It is rated R for "strong graphic violence" so I can't say I wasn't warned. So, there's my review. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle (GI Joooooeee!) The rest is up to you.

Now, I just want to say this onnnne, tiiiiny thing about Scott Brown (R) from Massachusetts. In 1982 when he was in law school he posed in his birthday suit (with some strategic hand placement) in Cosmo magazine and was voted "Sexiest Man of the Year" by said magazine. And he just got elected to the Senate to take over Kennedy's seat. Now, if a woman had some sort of centerfold like the one ol' Scottie has in his portfolio, she probably wouldn't even be elected to the PTA, much less the Senate. I'm just sayin', I'm just sayin'. He says he's an Independent, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...and has "Duck" next to his name on the news...he's probably a Duck. Bye-bye, healthcare bill...hello, filibuster. And that's all I have to say about that.

On a lighter note, I'm suuuuper excited about the 2010 Vancouver Olympics! They start February 12th and go through the 28th. Among the scheduled events are Alpine Skiing, the Luge, Snowboarding, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Curling, and more! Check out the website--I promise if you aren't excited now, you will be after perusing the site. True story, when I was in elementary school I wanted to be a professional ice-skater (many thanks to Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski) and I looooved watching the winter Olympics just to see the figure skating. Had I ever even been ice skating? Nope. Did I care? Nope. For career day at school we all had to make "hats" in Art and the whole third grade would go out into the "pod" (which was the communal convening area for the classes) and separate into categories. Me and this other kid who wanted to be an archaeologist were the only ones without an obvious category. Awesome.

In later years I would move on to also being passionate about archaeology, actually staging "digs" in my own backyard, unearthing a baseball (which I thought was a dinosaur bone in my blind pursuit of history) and a large rock (which I cracked open with a hammer just to make sure there were no ancient fossils or beautiful crystals inside). After archaeology, the law earned its place in my heart and I would hold mock trials in my living room with my friends, swearing witnesses in with a Bible and calling the court to order with my father's gavel from his presidency in his college fraternity. Ah, make-believe is an extraordinary thing when you're a kid. Figure skater-archaeologist-lawyer-nurse. And there's my career history, in a nutshell.

Happy Thursday, everyone!


Tonight, I fed my husband a staple

It was an accident, I swear! It was in his salad and I think it came from the bag of pecans...and I...shucks. Sorry, Andy. Better luck next time.

So, on Friday when we were on our way to the Engineering potluck, I was in a bad mood. Like, really feeling sorry for myself. My mindset was not "keep your chin up", "look at the bright side", or "hang in there". It was more like "this sucks", "I'm so mad", "poor, poor, pitiful me". And Jesus decided to give me a big ol' hug anyway. There we were zipping through traffic on I-40, and within 30 seconds of each other, two license plates: [GIVTHX] and [JEREMIA]. Coincidence, says you? No, says I. Not only did the Lord gently remind me of all that I have to be thankful for (and that thankfulness is the healthiest emotion in the deck), but he gave me a little clue to seek his face in a more specific place. And when I crack open the Good Book, what do I see? Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart;...for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future...You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Refreshing, isn't it?--to know that God really is in control and he really does know everything you're dealing with--whether it's joyous, depressing, frustrating, exciting, or any other adjective you want to throw in there. And if you're watching--and even when you're not-- he might just use an unexpected medium to speak to your heart--like the butt end of a Cadillac.

So, while we were in Raleigh on Saturday, we also saw a most rare and unexpected sight: a flock of Gray-Wheeled Goober-Guppies. You may not have heard of these creatures, but they travel in packs, come in all shapes and sizes, and meal on cheeseburgers, however, their most remarkable quality is their gullibility: they've been cozened into taking a tour of downtown Raleigh via Segway, and on a rainy day, no less. Here is proof of the sighting:

A rare snapshot of science, if I do say so myself. And we wonder why we have TV shows like the Biggest Loser, Big Medicine, etc...

Welp, it's still January. And that's all I have to say about that. I'm looking forward to Andrew's birthday and Valentine's Day (I never thought I would say that, but there it is, in writing!). We went to Barnes & Noble on Sunday and I literally. couldn't. find. a book. There are so many and I just don't know which one to pick! I need help. Anyone read any noteworthy books lately?


Oh, my lanta!

I am. so. stuffed. Like a stuffed turkey or a stuffed mushroom. Ay-ay-ay. We went to Milltown in downtown Carrboro tonight for dinner, after a full day of breakfasting at Big Ed's with Ann and Company, watching the Tigers pummel (lightly) the Wolf Pack at the RBC Center, and wandering around the Museum of Natural Sciences slack jawed and stumbling over small children. Now, I'm in a food coma, more or less. Nothing works but my hands, which are graciously allowing me to type this wonderful, inspiring, groundbreaking blog post. Andrew is watching some smooth-talking Swedish guy--who's name, incidentally, is Hans-- on YouTube lecturing about world population growth, GDP, and infant mortality. Later, we will be doing scientific experiments with beakers and petri dishes and pipettes.

An interruption by two big lame Sally moments from this weekend:

1. I broke one of my beautiful, cream PB bowls yesterday. One down, 11 to go. Bum-mer.

2. Andrew was too cool for school and would not take a picture with me at the basketball game this afternoon. I blame it on the Wolf Pack. He wanted to be incognito.

Now back to our regular programming.

Last night we went to a potluck supper hosted by one of the head-honchos in the Environmental Engineering department at UNC. All the nerds were there in all their smartness and pocket-protected glory, and one of the most handsome of them all is married to me. We chit-chatted over drinks and wasabi peas and a table of pots chock full of luck until we were completely spent and decided to call it a night. The host's house was a veritable greenhouse with potted plants and a Koi pond and all kinds of indoor-outdoor mind-swindling tricks going on, but one thing that caught my eye was his bookshelf. You can tell a lot about a person by the books he reads. Or maybe displays. Because this bookshelf was floor to ceiling, wall to wall. And had titles like The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Dutch, Harry Potter and the __________, Making Things Grow, etcetera. A bookshelf can say 1/3 who a person is, 1/3 who they think they are, and 1/3 who they want to be. Because no one has read all of the books on their bookshelves. Except maybe Kelly. But she doesn't count. You have books you've read and really enjoyed, books you have tried to read to get smarter or seem smarter (and to your credit, it's worked!), and books you want to be smart enough to read but can't make it through the first 10 pages without smacking the snooze button. [And when I say you I'm talking about the proverbial, collective you, kind of like the proverbial they, as in "you know, they say if you put sunblock in your hair it will grow twice as fast...". So, don't take it personally. Or do. And I made that whole sunblock thing up for an example, so don't go combing sunblock through your shorty-short tresses.] In no way am I saying this is a bad thing, however. If the human race never made it past Goodnight Moon or Berenstain Bears the world would be a silly place. Or maybe we'd all just get a really good night's sleep. Anyway, it's good to have a bookshelf of thirds, if you will, to push yourself, one philosophical summary page at a time. I've got a bookshelf like this one, meself. I like to delude myself into thinking that Four Plays by Aristophanes falls into the same category as a Karen Kingsbury novel.

'Kay. I'm fresh out. I know there's more to talk about than just the above ramblings, but my brain is still digesting my hambuger. {???} I shall take my leave. Later alligators. Until next time. Fare-thee-well. Over and out. 10-4. Arrivederci. Nighty-night. Sayonara. Ciao. Bye-bye. See ya. Adios. Adieu. Catch ya on the flip side. Until we meet again. God be with ye.

And lastly, as Mizz Klum would say, auf wiedersehen.

Post script: Haiti still needs our help, and will continue to need our help. No donation is too little, or too much--So, keep giving!


Water for Haiti

Haiti: the word on every news anchor's lips. Our first reaction is to keep our eyes trained on the TV and shake our heads in awe. It seems to be a hopeless situation. As we speak, however, God's hands and feet are deploying to this island nation to bring aid, medical care, food, and clean water. Just because we sit in the comfort of our homes here in America in no way means that we are helpless to help! One way to majorly impact emergency operations is to help provide clean water--clean water for drinking, washing, cooking, and medical usage. Clean and safe water will be imperative for survival in these first days and weeks and months of rescue. As Andrew's passion and area of study is clean water in developing nations, I can't help but highlight Water Missions International, a non-profit based in Charleston, SC that has already deployed a team of rescue workers and multiple water treatment systems to battered and bleeding Haiti. Every little bit helps--after the tsunami in Sri Lanka, Americans gave over 2 billion dollars with the average donation being around $56. That's totally do-able! So, instead of a trip to Starbucks or the nail salon, please donate to WMI and help our neighbors to the South in their hour of greatest need.


Holy mackerel

Well, the new year has slipped into our lives as seamlessly and wordlessly as a lowcountry high tide, and things are slowly, but surely, getting back to normal. Andrew went off to school today as classes start again this week. One semester of grad school down, 3-ish to go. We've put the apartment to rights, the last load of laundry whirring, chugging, rumbling in my ears as we speak.

Last night we went to see the famed Avatar in 3D at the mammoth Southpoint Cinemas--would you believe that we tried to see this movie on Saturday afternoon and it was sold out, and tried again to see it Sunday afternoon and had to go to a later showing because the matinee was sold out again?? And then we had to get there over an hour early in order to get good seats! Yes, Andrew, Graham, Joanna and I actually stood in line for about an hour before the movie to avoid sitting in the orchestra pit and staring straight up for three hours. It was good, it was worth it, but my goodness! You would think it would be easy peasy to get tickets weeks after opening day, but apparently not. Statistically speaking, Avatar is already the second highest grossing movie of all time, behind Titanic. Joanna said that, so joke's on her if it's incorrect. 100% of people who eat broccoli die. Chew on that.

My New Year's resolution is coming along swimmingly, and my secret to success (maybe I should can this and sell it...) is to choose something attainable for New Year's resolutions but to make New Year's goals or aspirations for things that are slightly more difficult or altogether unrealistic. For example, realistic/attainable: take a multi-vitamin every day (Mother, you will be elated to know that that is, in fact, my resolution). Unrealistic/more difficult to attain: run a marathon, hike the Appalachian trail, visit the moon. Let's be serious, attainable means different things to different people. Andrew resolving to run a marathon is not so unrealistic. Me resolving to run a marathon is downright funny. So, I've resolved to take vitamins. Not in place of good nutrition, but in addition to good nutrition. They are called supplements for a reason, people. Taking a pill and eating potato chips all day won't make those buttery crisps sprout vitamin-rich leaves. But anyway, studies have shown that when people set smaller goals that they are subsequently able to meet, it bolsters their self-esteem and is generally healthier than making grandiose goals and setting the bar light years away only to fail and then feel depressed about it. Which studies, you ask? Well, I just did one a few minutes ago and those are my conclusions. Harrumph.

It's January 11th. One third of the way through this month of doldrums. It's going pretty fast, which is fine by me. Andrew's birthday is at the end of the month and I'm pretty sure there will be a chicken pot pie and a German chocolate cake involved, the latter of which I have never attempted. But being the New Year and all, a time for new experiences and ventures, I'm game.

Speaking of games. Andrew and I have been playing Settlers of Catan with Graham and Joanna lately and consequently, we are not speaking to each other. Bwahahaha--just kidding, but let me tell you, if we experience marital troubles in the future, I will bet that we can trace its roots back to this blasted game. The premise of the game is an "old world" mentality of building communities or settlements with your available resources and there are all kinds of rules and points and strategies, etc. and you can cut each other off at the pass and steal resources and amass an army and all sorts of things. It's a long, long game. Longer than that run-on sentence. And it provides lots of opportunities for altercations between husband and wife. Don't worry, at worst we might need counseling or a Bahamavention--at best, we'll just solve our problems the old fashioned way: Indian leg wrestling. I kid, I kid.

Welp, just heard the buzzer on the dryer. Off to fulfill my wifely duties. Oy, vey!


The proof's in the pudding

The above photo captures the craziness of packing for a two week-ish vacation in multiple locations and climate types. Snow gear and sandals pretty much sums it up.

THIS is what was happening during the aforementioned nightmare of packing. Yuuuummm.

We had ourselves a merry little Christmas before we left to see our friends and families.



I'm sorry about this photo. I was happy. and comfortable.
The lovely sight of a foot of snow piled on top of Barrett's jeep was our greeting in Hendersonville the next evening. That, and a belly scratch for Stella: we scraped semi-frozen snow all the way up the road to Andrew's parents' house!

My favorite: these evergreen trees in Granna and Grandaddy's yard were resplendent with the white lights softly glowing underneath the snow!

Just gorgeous!

Boys will be boys: Andrew, Barrett & Collin building a "tunnel" to sled through.
Ah, the first taste of success! I love how the youngest is always the guinea pig. ;)

My angel. The snow was a bit crispy on top, so instead of fluffy powder to whisk around to make an angel, it was more like pounding my arms into the frozen, crunchy layer to get it to make an imprint. Still, it worked!

The gorgeous view from the top of the golf course...this was post hiney bashing, so I was more into taking in my beautiful surroundings than sitting my sore bum down on any more zinging sleds.

The crazies :)

Fast forward to New Year's Eve at the Cooper's John's Island getaway: friends, football, food, and fchampagne (the "f" is silent.......right....).

I just love him! Happy 2010, darling!

And this.

This creamy, steamy, dreamy tomato soup.

It's not for the faint of heart or anyone trying to zip their skinny jeans.

Here's the recipe. I made it up. It's good. The measurements are more approximations, but don't let that scare you. Let your taste buds lead the way!

2 cans stewed tomatoes (or one big can of Granna's tomatoes)

1 can tomato paste

1 can tomato soup (any brand will do)

2 cans chicken broth or 3ish cups of homemade broth (like from bouillon, etc.)

2-3 shallots, diced

1/2 stick of butter (you heard me.)

1 pint heavy cream (you heard me.)

fresh or dried basil, to taste

oregano, to taste

rosemary, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

salt, to taste

cayenne pepper, to taste


In a large pot or cast iron oven (they hold heat very well and heat evenly, too!), saute diced shallots in melted butter over medium heat. When shallots are clearish and aromatic, add tomato paste stirring until shallots and butter are incorporated. Add chicken broth and canned tomato soup. Stirrrrrr it up. In a food processor, pulse HALF of your stewed tomatoes until it is a thick liquid-y consistency. Add that and the rest of your tomatoes to the pot. Mix it all up making sure to break up any major chunks of tomatoes. Add the heavy cream and mix everything together, adding spices as you go. When you add the cayenne pepper, add a little and let the soup simmer for a few minutes, then taste again. The heat brings out the heat, if you know what I mean, so go low and slow. When you think it tastes just about perfect, turn the heat up to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve with warm ooey-gooey grilled cheese and enjoy!!

Trust me. It's that good.


Back in the 2000s...

Man, we're getting old. I can just hear my proverbial kids howling with laughter when we tell them that during our heyday we went sledding during Christmastime and rang in the New Year and the new decade with good friends, good food, and cheap champagne (because the only people who buy expensive champagne have apostrophes in their names and wear five inch dollar signs as jewelry). They will probably have hovercrafts and be able to zip over to Paris, and then to Shanghai and beyond to follow the new year around the globe in a snap. Probably not. But that'd be cool. Ah, me. Everything changes, nothing stays the same. I do have photographic proof of the Big Snow and sledding and New Year's and such. But I'm too lazy to deal with the rigors of posting said photographs on this conundrum of a computer right now. So, you'll just have to wait. But I will post them, I promise.

Christmas "break", as it were, was much, much too much and not nearly enough all at the same time. Too much shopping, too much food, too much Christmas music, too much driving....but not enough time with the ones we love the most. Just simply not enough. We're back in the good ol' 1318, just me and him, him and me. And our Christmas tree. Our first food of the new year was homemade tomato soup and chicken salad sandwiches. Yu-um. Don't worry, we had collards and hoppin' John in Charleston before we left on New Year's Day. No bad luck here. Make like the Shaker's and shake off the Man. Ha! A little trivia for you: leftover Hoppin' John is called "Skippin' Jenny". how hilarious is that?? Prett-yyy hilarious.

Ya know what I think is tough?? Tough like old shoe leather, like beef jerky, like arithmetic, getting out of bed, and steeling yourself to clean the bathroom? I think Winter is tough. I know, you thought I was going to say "looking for a job" or some such nonsense (which, it is tough, but that's not what we're talking about here), but I think January, February, and the former two thirds of March are tough. Becauuuuse...they're cold. There's usually rain involved. And there's not a birthday or reasonable holiday in sight until July. Yeah, yeah, your birthday's February 82nd, but what I'm saying is there ain't nothing to look forward to but summer. And that's a long three months. So. I've decided to take another good, hard look at Winter. If Martha can make something out of nothing, so can I. And I'll be gosh darned if I don't celebrate Valentine's day with vigor and Saint Patrick's day with pride. There will be doilies, hearts, clovers, and leprechaun's all over my house. Juuuust kidding, just kidding. But I will probably make a cupcake or 20.

So, Winter is about hybernation. Snuggling down until Spring. Hot tea, good books, soft, fuzzy blankets. But, this time of year, it's also about turning over a new leaf--even if that leaf is colorless, crinkled, and dry from a harsh Winter wind. One thing I love, love about God is that he is a huge fan of New Year's resolutions. Not in the self-serving lose-five-pounds sense, but in the sense that when you stand in front of him, staring deep into his loving eyes, with your arms flung open wide and your heart flung open wider, declaring to Him that you will go all the way, you will give up everything for Him, you will do whatever it takes to spread the Good News--he believes you. In that moment of complete surrender and steely resolve to give it all up for the Kingdom, God believes that you will. Even though He can see the end of your lifetime, and whether you did or you didn't, in that amazing moment, He believes you. He sees his likeness in your heart. Because He is love. And Love believes all things and hopes all things. And Love rejoices with the truth that Love sees itself in you. Yes, and amen! Good to know.

To turning the leaf, turning the page, turning the other cheek, turning the key, turning a profit, turning wood, turning around, turning over, turning course.

To turns. Mine and yours.